Fiona's Top Five of 2011

It's that time of year again, the time of year I hear myself saying, "I can't believe it's been a year." I'm pleased to kick off this 2011 round of year-end staff picks. Here are five of my favourite books from the last twelve months, in no particular order...


The Pale King
by David Foster Wallace

Sometimes I felt as if the late author had designed to torture me. On several occasions I laughed aloud. I temporarily developed a case of psychosomatic sweating. David Foster Wallace's last unfinished novel The Pale King is splanchnic and frustrating, also rewarding, and absolutely demanding of a rereading. 

Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality 
by Christopher Ryan, PhD and Cacilda Jethá, MD 

Dan Savage called it "The single most important book about human sexuality since Alfred Kinsey unleashed Sexual Behavior in the Human Male on the American public in 1948." Sex at Dawn, first published in late 2010 and out in paperback in 2011, is the polemic I am pushing on everyone this holiday season.

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty 
by Andrew Bolton, with contributions by Susannah Frankel and Tim Blanks, photography by Sølve Sundsbø

Savage Beauty is the exhibition catalogue for the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art's 2011 retrospective of the British designer, Alexander McQueen. The exhibition made me feel things I never thought I could feel in a room crowded with American tourists (it was the eighth highest attended show in the history of the museum) and the catalogue captures much the sublimity of that experience.

Big Questions
by Anders Nilsen

Anders Nilsen's stunning tome Big Questions, which collects over ten years of work and comes in at over 600 pages, reminded me why I love comics so much. Big Questions is one of the most interesting and refreshing uses of the comics medium I've read in recent years, in that it uses that special combination of words and pictures to communicate great ideas, free of genre tropes and hangups, just black ink on white page, thoughtful and evocative.


A Tour of Iconic Bicycle Design

Edited by Michael Embacher, Foreword by Paul Smith
It's just so pretty.

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